Written in 2014 for Natural OC Magazine
Fresh fruit and vegetable juice has taken center stage in the nutrition world. Celebrities and fitness gurus are recommending it as a sort of cure-all to anyone they meet. Whether it is to shed a few pounds or to ease symptoms of diseases and illness, droves of people are downing the green juice every day.
The trend might be to set down the fizz and replace it with a glass of green, but why has green juice stolen the show?
The reason has to do with nutrition. Think about all of the cells that make up your hands, arms and the rest of your body. These cells need specific nutrients in order to do their jobs.
If these cells are given the right combination of nutrients – or the tools needed to do their jobs, they will thrive. In this case the body is in a state of balance and is healthy. If these cells do not receive the correct combination of nutrients needed, they will become weak and possibly malformed. This will lead the body into a state of “dis-ease” and will be unhealthy.
Of course, none of us want to be unhealthy. We do not wake up every morning setting the intention to lead ourselves down the path of disease. Many times it is those choices which we make with no thought at all that add up to illness and an unhealthy life – those quick, easy meal choices, or our diet-cheats that occur a bit too often. The small daily choices are what create our health, the shape of our figures, and the state of our spirits. Wonderfully, however, it is the small, daily choices that can carve a healthy body, sharp mind, and peaceful spirit as well.
The best way to begin healing our bodies is to provide them with the correct nutrients – the tools cells use to live and do their jobs. This means providing our bodies with enough of the right proteins, enzymes, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. It would be great to adopt a strict, health-oriented, rehabilitating diet with absolutely no cheat days, but if we face the reality there aren’t too many of us that can stick to those types of diets with any success. Militaristic, strict routines are difficult to follow and usually end up in guilt and failure. The best way to change and heal your body is through small changes in your daily life and this is where the green juice comes into play.
One of the best ways to infuse your body with live, organic enzymes, vitamins and other nutrients, and still have time to pick up the dry cleaning is with fresh fruit and vegetable juices.
Juicing the fruits and vegetables condenses all of their vitamins and minerals into a small amount of liquid. Try eating the amount of fruits and vegetables that you can drink in a glass of juice, and you’ll start to understand how it works. When you take out the fiber from the fresh fruits and vegetables, you are left with the juice that can be absorbed into your body within 20 minutes. It takes around 12 hours to digest the whole food versions. The nutrients in these juices can start healing your body almost instantly, giving it a boost of energy and vitality without demanding large amounts of digestion in return. Just add one glass of juice to your daily routine and see what happens to your health, vitality and fitness.
So the Juice Journey begins. It’s one step on a path to a healthy body, capable of accomplishing great things – supplying our bodies with the correct nutrients in order to cary out the daily activities. When we do that, we will be able to approach our days with more energy and peace of mind knowing we are doing what we can to live our lives in a healthy way.
There are many ways to combine fruit and vegetable juices in order to create delicious and healthy drinks. Leafy greens (which include kale, spinach, collards, and lettuces) can be combined with apple, orange, mango, lemon, ginger, pineapple, or coconut… the list is much longer. All of these options contain natural sources of essential vitamins, minerals and the enzymes needed to digest them, so your body doesn’t have to work to get the nutrients it needs.
Try combining cucumber, apple and mint juice for a refreshing summer treat that gives you a hydrating boost. (remember, our bodies are 60% water! Hydration is paramount.) Juice watermelon with the rind, and combine that with mint juice and garnish with sliced grapes for an alkaline brunch treat. A great green juice could be a combination of chard, spinach, pineapple, one whole lemon, cucumber, celery. The key is to find a good base that you like (pineapple, chard, lemon, cucumber) – then add holistic things that your body might need like turmeric, mint, parsley, cinnamon, onion, garlic, vinegar, or honey. It can be fun to learn how to be your own best doctor and no two people have the same juice needs, so explore your options and give yourself time to learn your own body. Of course, consulting a physician or an ND is a great idea should you feel you need to do so.
NAViGATING THE JARGON
Once you set foot into the juicing world, you will find that there is a web of details that can be confusing at first. Juice, for instance, is the fruits and the vegetables without the fiber. Blending is when the fruits are combined in a blender and the final result keeps the pulp with the whole fruits and vegetables. Within the juicing realm there is unpasturized juice and cold-pressed juice. When you start to dive further into the juicing world, you learn that enzymes, which are specific nutrients in fruits and vegetables, are very important to our bodies. They are destroyed with heat and are in danger again once they sit out in the open air. Because of this, it’s best to drink fresh, organic, raw, cold-pressed fruits and vegetable juices, but any type of organic, raw, fresh fruit and vegetable juice will be incredibly powerful, so it’s not necessary to be super strict with this rule. If you have an option between cold-pressed juice and any other juice, choose the cold-pressed; but there is no need to avoid juice altogether if you can’t find some that is raw and cold-pressed.
There are a few main types of juicers on the market. Ideally, you would have a centrifugal juicer (or a hydraulic cold-press) and a masticating juicer sitting on your countertop at home. But a hand-crank, inexpensive, wheatgrass juicer will get the same job done. It might take you three times as long, but you’ll get to work out those impressive arm muscles in the process.
Here’s a list of the most popular types of juicers:
Centrifugal Juicer – Non Ejection Type – This juicer processes fruits and vegetables with a high speed shredder disc. The stainless steel basket spins and holds the pulp inside, while the juice pours out of holes in the basket and through a spout at the front. This juicer has to be emptied after about every quart of juice and it doesn’t juice wheatgrass.
Centrifugal Juicer – Automatic Ejection Type – This juicer is similar to the standard Centrifugal juicer, however, it is generally easier to operate and clean. As the fruits and vegetables are fed into the juicer, the pulp is separated from the juice and is caught in the back of the juicer. The juice pours out a spout in the front. This juicer doesn’t juice wheatgrass.
Masticating Juicer – This is a term that describe all juicers that masticate or chew the fruits and vegetables to extract the juice. They use an auger with blades (the teeth) to grind and then squeeze out the juice. These are more versatile. They juice wheatgrass, nut butters, baby food and can be used to create fruit deserts.
Single Auger Juicer – a type of masticating juicer, these juicers use a single auger that rotates at a low rpm (revolutions per minute). Generally about 80 rpm. The fruit and vegetables are pressed and squeezed while moving forward. The juice flows into one basket and the pulp into another. These juicers can juice wheatgrass.
Twin Gear Juicer – This juicers is a type of masticating juicer. It uses stainless steel twin gears to squeeze the fruits and vegetables. It operates at less than 200 RPM and produces a large amount of juice. The process also involves less oxidization, heat and friction so your juice is full of nutrients.
Hydraulic Cold Press – juicers extract juice from fruits and vegetables using high pressure exerted through a Hydraulic Press. The word “Cold” is used when machines use Hydraulic Press technology and avoid adding heat while juicing. Some machines exert as much as 16 tons of pressure to extract the juice. The juice is nutrient-rich and ‘living.’ These machines can be the most expensive on the market. They also take more time and are more labor-intensive.
Living Juice Extractor is a term that has been coined by Super Angel, one of the leading twin gear masticating juicers. It refers to the slow process which preserves the enzymes in the juice.
For an idea of how the Hydraulic Cold Press works, check out this video of a ‘juice-off’ between the Super Angel and the Norwalk Hydraulic Press.